Shooting horses...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by jenn76, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. jenn76

    jenn76 TPF Noob!

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    I have a shoot in a couple of weeks where I will be doing shots of a woman and her 2 horses. She has photos of her riding them, but would like photos of them and her with them. She sent me a website of someone who specializes in this, and has some wonderful sharp photos!

    Mary Cornelius Photography

    But i was hoping that some of you who have shot horses before might have some tips. Thanks!

    I should add that the photos she likes are under "FarmCall Portraiture" on Mary's page.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2009
  2. LuckySo-n-So

    LuckySo-n-So TPF Noob!

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    OK, I fixed the thread title for you. I was very hesitant to open the thread... :lol:

    There are lots of people here who "shoot" horses on a regular basis. Wait around, I'm sure they will chime in...
     
  3. JE Kay

    JE Kay TPF Noob!

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    Rule one. Horses kick and bite. ;)

    Do you have experience with horses?

    I'm guessing she's not using Thoroughbreds for this shoot, blowing frilly things blowing in the wind and Thoroughbred's don't mix....:D No sudden hand waving or movements either.

    Seriously. I take it she's grooming the horses, so you shouldn't have to worry about muddy horses.

    With this type of shot you don't really have to worry about conformation or anything, more style than anything. Watch for 'pinned' ears, they kinda ruin the shot.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Flash is also something to consider - I might be totaly wrong, or it could be the style of shooting and editing done on the photos that you linked to but I would think that some were taken with flash being used.
    Flash and animals is always dependant on the animal - some won't bat an eyelid at it and others will run 50 miles from it. There are some patterns (lizards appear to totally ignor it) but with horses its all down to the animal in question - so if you want to use flash try a few calm experiment shots with the horse first just to gague their reaction to it - give them space to move where they won't hurt themselves or anyone else if they do spook at it.
     
  5. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No, particularly when riders are involved and especially at equestrian events. When the subject is your own horse then maybe, but the images I viewed in the linked site appear to be taken of horses that do not belong to the photographer and may or may have not been prepared for flash photography. Trying to gague the reaction to a flash prior to an equestrian event could have deliterious effects during the event should the flash spook the horse. Horses do not calm down as quickly as it seems. Several years ago I was participating in a show when my horse was flashed several hours prior to my event, it took everything I had to keep the horse inline everytime a camera came up to a persons face and I lost the event due to it.

    For the situation described in the OP, a flash seems Highly innapropriate. I am led to believe that this is going to be the first photoshoot of the woman and her two horses. Even if the woman is a skilled rider, the possibility of spooking the horse brings up the risk of dissatisfaction with the shoot overall, both during and afterwards given the reference material she provided. If she is constantly fighting the horses, the photos are likely not going to turn out anywhere close to what she is looking for, and she is looking for a lot IMHO.
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Certianly many horse events will ban the use of flash photography for the duration of the event for the very reasons that you have outlined (especaily with the highly skittish racing horses) - however I was under the imporession from the OP that this was not a horse event so much as just her and the owner (and the horses of course) getting together for a photoshoot and as thus would be (hopefully) a less stressful event for the horses in general and that they would be on their "home grounds"

    Certainly if you don't need the flash there is not point using it for usage sake and not using it is the prefered - though controling the lighting is a key part of photography and a very heavy day of cloud can make getting good exopsures tricky with ambient lighting (especaily for large animals such as horses where one might be in need of a greater depth of field than for smaller subjects and people in general)
    I am certainly not trying to push for the use of flash just for the consideration of its possible use - if you have an external flash head (like a speedlite) you could use that not attached to the camera and fire a test flash that way - any negative reaction would then be placed on the shape of the flash head rather than that of the camera and lens (plus some apples or something from you to help calm the horse to you).

    As I said first its highly dependant on the horse(s) in question and on the rider as well - so certainly listen to them if they say its not a good idea. Also remember that many people have little point and shoots these days and many a pet gets exposed to the torments of an owner after a few shots (cats and dogs can well relate to this) so the idea of a flash is not as alien (in some cases) as it once was many years ago when photography was a very margnial activity
     
  7. jenn76

    jenn76 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everyone! I appreciate all the thoughts on this. I have done some pet photography, but never horses. I have been around horses a lot growing up, so I'm pretty comfortable with them. Good thought keeping my distance though! And I will ask the owner if the horses are used to a flash or if it would spook them. Hoping I don't need to use it. She has lots of pics of them, most likely from a point and shoot, so the flash on that isn't the same power as my Speedlite. Good idea about taking it off camera and doing a test flash. We will be shooting on her land and around her barn, not at an event. So the horses should be comfortable in their own territory. She said it's beautiful out at the barn in the "golden hour". I'm planning to get there a little early to get acquainted with my subjects. I'm looking forward to it!
     
  8. jenn76

    jenn76 TPF Noob!

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    At least i wasn't posting about shooting kids... :lol:
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    just remembered something that I learnt from another photographer with regard to horses which is to always try to use your longer lenses - especailly for side shots with an eye for the horse filling much of the frame. If you use something like a 50mm lens and try to fill the frame with the horse the belly of the animal will be far closer to the lens (compartivly speaking) than the back will - so not only will you need a small aperture to get full body depth of field - but the distances will mean that the horse ends up looking a lot fatter than it actually is.
    Better to get back from the animal and shoot with a 200mm, 300mm sort of focal range - then you don't need as small an aperture to cover the depth of field over the animal and the compartive distances of the middle of the back and the belly are very small do you don't get a fatter looking horse
     
  10. JE Kay

    JE Kay TPF Noob!

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    Overread makes a good point where the lens is concerned. My friend is a highly regarded equine artist, I've shot many reference photos for her as well as seen everything she shoots. Lens selection will depend on where you're shooting, paddock size etc. If you have a lot of room then something 200mm + would be a good idea. 85mm would be the shortest I would use. Keep it to f/2.8 if you can if you're close, because again depending on where you're shooting you might want to keep the background nice and buttery. ;) Just sucks to be locked at f/5.6 or something for everything.

    If you're shooting at the 'golden hour' then I would not worry about flash, sounds like she wants to use the natural light, it can add some nice dramatic style to these type of shots for sure.

    The most important thing is to have fun, keep it light. :mrgreen: Try different angles as well, slightly elevated shooting spots can add a nice dimension. 90% of equine photography looks the same because everyone shoots from the standing position and the usual vantage points. Even so-called pros do it. Shooting horses can be tricky, there are tricks to it that go a long way to making your images look good.

    Oh if you're shooting late in the day shoot in RAW, give yourself some room when editing the files.:thumbup:
     
  11. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    I would recommend a large caliber, with a nice scope, and plenty of time to haul them to the glue factory.....

    Actually a good mix of fast lenses over 100, no flash, different views, and a horse size reflector.
     
  12. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was also under the imporession from the OP that this was not a horse event so much as just her and the owner and the horses getting together for a photoshoot, I just accidently went on a bit of a shpiel when I rather quickly came across event photos in the provided site link. Not knowing the extent of the OP's horse experience I opted to leave it so as to basically outline potential difficulty from a riders standpoint.

    Some thing I left out of my previous post is the fact I am not a horse owner, so I was regularly riding an experienced show horse belonging to someone else. Additionally that show I am refferring to took place on the horses home turf so to speak. Of all the other events that horse was shown in that day, I was the only one to complete an event, two riders where thrown and one quit after two faild jump gates IIRC. Any one who has ever ridden a horse can tell you how stubborn they can be ;)

    Yeah, I was under the impression you had not previously shot horses but was unaware of the owners having taken her own pictures of the horses. I would definately find out what camera was used to take them and if infact she actually took them herself.
     

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